The most immediately obvious thing about Laurence Clark is his wheelchair and the cerebral palsy which causes him to slur his words a little.
Clark is disabled (according to the British legal definition). Given that we meet him in the context of him being a stand up comic, an early thought is – will this affect his ability to perform stand up? (he wisely ignores the obvious crack about not being able to “stand up” – in any case, he can. But probably not for long).
Comedy audiences largely comprise people who think that they are relatively unprejduced – and compared to some of the shocking behaviour you see in the general public – they may be mostly right. My experience was that it took me a little while to settle into the gig. Pretty much all of the material relates to his disability or peoples reaction to it – and that brings with it one or two layers of additional thought in the response. Laughter is a spontaneous reaction and if you find yourself thinking about why youre laughing it can lessen the immediate effect.
But thats really just first impressions – an extension of the time it naturally takes you to get onboard with someones unique experience and world-view and sure enough by around the halfway mark I found myself relaxing more into the gig and beginning to really enjoy it. Clark uses powerpoint a lot and some of the hidden camera stuff is just great.
As a comedy booker watching any sort of minority I often experience a second guessing moment in which I notice a first reaction to book them because of their minority status and then catch myself in the act of prejudicial positive discrimination and flounder for a moment. Happily I can look forward to booking Clark on the basis that he’s a funny guy.